Personal betting scandals, and how to stay calm while being fleeced by a sweet old lady.

The TattsBet boys are laughing at me. I just know it.

Gathered in a room, counting their cash, slapping thighs every time I have a wager.

They get me every time, the betting agency lads. And it’s all to do with Fixed Odds.

Confused? You’re obviously not punting enough. Let me explain.

Those humble race fans who bet on the laptop in their favourite comfy chair, are now blessed with choice.

We can flick between tote odds and fixed price odds, at the click of a mouse.

Those in the know will back a good thing on Friday at a fixed price, before the rest of us are aware said neddy is a certainty.

The smart operator makes money out of this, because prices can vary greatly.

I’m not that smart operator.

I step the wrong way. Constantly. The sound you hear is those money men chortling.

If I back something on the tote, the fixed prize blows like an Ekka westerly. Wrong choice.

Lock something in on the fixed odds five minutes out, and the tote price will balloon.

I can back a winner and still be yelling at the screen, accusing faceless people of a foul conspiracy.

Family members find this amusing. Winning should be fun, they chorus. Which helps my mood no end.

I have history when it comes to betting disputes. The results are rarely good.

One of my first encounters with a bookie almost ended in fisticuffs. Nearly thirty years ago.

I was young and fit, with a spring in my step. He was old and grizzled, with a heavy leather bag slung over a shoulder. The smart money was still on him.

I had backed a horse called Gaelic. Or so I thought.

It saluted, at lucrative odds. I cheered, and pictured what it would be like to afford steak that week.

With correct weight declared, I strode to his stand with the hand-scrawled ticket. No computers back then.

He looked at it, and handed it back. Wrong horse son, he drawled. You backed Gaelic Yacht.

Indeed, both horses ran in that race. Gaelic Yacht needed a winged keel to get close to them. The despised outsider. And I didn’t back him.

I made this point, forcefully. The bookie, who was enjoying a battle he was always going to win, pointed at the ticket.

In his Tutankhamun-like scrawl, I saw something that resembled Gaelic. And at the end of it, to my horror, was a Y.

It was a deliberate sting. He’d fooled the young bloke. I was shattered. No steak for me.

Ever since, I’ve double-checked my tickets. Read them back aloud, to the amusement of those around me. Just to be sure.

One person I could never argue with was my SP bookie. Or his mother.

He was a legend at our footy club. A star of days gone by.

He didn’t take our calls on race day. Very clever. That job was left to his mum. A sweet, elderly lady, who we’ll call Mrs Smith.

She knew how to bake, and knit, and lay off the shortener at Randwick. And she had a lovely telephone manner.

We’d call from the pay phone at the pub. No matter how close it was to race time, she’d ask how you were. Family good? Fine. Now, what would you like to lose your last few dollars on?

Settling would be done at training every Tuesday. Usually great incentive to do extra laps and stay out of sight.

Back then, there was no confusion. Or choice. You won, or you lost. With the help of a little old lady.

One thing they never did, the SP man and his mum, was laugh at me. Possibly because my poor choices helped build them a new home.

So I have this message for the TattsBet chaps. Give a bloke a fair go. Stop changing my prices for your amusement. Let me lose in peace. And do you know where I can buy a cheap steak?

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